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Issue 10 

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FLAGWAVER

THE JOURNAL OF GREAT WATERS ASSOCIATION OF VEXILLOLOGY

December, 2000                                              Vol. V, No. 2, Issue 10

 

THE CITY FLAG OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

 

                            

Left flag from the Public Library of Chicago              Right flag from a Chicago flag manufacturer

 

This is our original image, wrong shape of stars


1939-Present

 

         The city flag of Chicago was adopted by the City Council in 1917. Chicago Council proceedings of March 28, 1917 state:

          The proposed municipal flag for the City of Chicago herewith forwarded to your Honorable body for adoption is shown in two sizes: the first to be borne by hand is four feet four in height and six feet six in breadth. Its uppermost stripe, of white, is eight inches broad; the second stripe, of blue, is nine inches; the central bar, of white, is eighteen inches; the next to lowermost stripe, of blue, is nine inches; and the lowermost stripe, of white, is eight inches broad. Next (to) the hoist and two inches from it at the nearest point is a red star fourteen inches tall with six points drawn from a circle six inches in diameter. Two inches from this is a second star of the same size. Both stars are two inches from the blue stripes above and below. Considered locally, the two stripes of blue symbolize the Chicago River and its two branches, enclosing the great West side in the center, with the North side above and the South side below. The two stars stand for the two great formative events in Chicago history, the Great Fire of 1871 and the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. They are given six points each that they may not be confused with the five-pointed stars which stand for the States of the Union in the American Flag.

 The flag was designed by Wallace Rice of 2701 Best Avenue, Chicago.

          The ordinance was amended in 1933, adding a star to commemorate the "Century of Progress" World's Fair. In 1939, a fourth star was added (at the fly end) for Fort Dearborn, to represent the founding of the city. The 1933 ordinance also provided for a municipal pennant specifying that it shall be a long streamer with three stars on a white field at the hoist and the fly equally divided blue and white. A municipal badge is also described having three red stars on a silver field between two blue bars. 1
         In addition to the designation for the stars, each point of each star has a significance. The points of the "Fort Dearborn" star denote the developmental history of the city: the French period (through 1693), the British period (1693-1763), the Virginia Colony period (1763-1798), the period as part of Indiana Territory (1798-1802), and Illinois Statehood in 1818.
         The points of the "Great Fire" star represent transportation, industry, commerce, finance, populousness, and salubrity. 
         The points of the "Columbian Exposition" star signify religion, education, esthetics, justice, beneficence, and civic spirit.
         Finally, the points of the "Century of Progress" star indicate: The World's third largest city, the city's Latin motto Urbs in Horto, the city's English motto I will, the Great Central Market, the Wonder City, and the Convention City, all nicknames. 
         Chicago's flag is one of the most widely used of large city flags. City ordinance requires that it be flown from all municipal buildings and many private businesses also display it regularly. In addition, the stars motif has literally become part of Chicago's fabric. The design is imprinted into concrete on sidewalks and bridge abutments. Railings are molded into the shape of the stars and street signs installed before the Democratic Convention of 1996 bear a logo with the four stars and two stripes. (DB)

1 Presumably today the pennant and badge would exhibit four stars.

2001

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